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PAC Award Winner - Gold

Box Without Wax

Overview

Norampac’s “Box Without Wax” corrugated containers are water-resistant, fully repulpable boxes that are made without wax.A wax alternative, water-based acrylic formula is blended with 100% recycled fibres during the paper-making process to create water-resistant containerboard. This containerboard is then corrugated and converted into containers that withstand environments which would typically require wax. Unlike waxed boxes, these containers are fully repulpable and suitable for recovery streams that reprocess old corrugated containers (OCC).

Motivation for Change

Our motivation was to produce water-resistant, fully repulpable boxes without wax.Wax is not water-soluble which makes it ideal for resisting moisture absorption in different environments. Conversely, this means that even small amounts of wax are difficult to recycle and impossible to repulp in paper mills. To make matters worse, wax is often applied to virgin fibres; so the best material for creating new corrugated packaging gets disposed of in landfill.Furthermore, traditional waxes are made from petroleum-based, non-renewable resources.

Cost Effectiveness

a) Norampac’s wax alternative material is cost competitive and best suited for the production of packaging that would normally be impregnated or curtain-coated with wax. Additionally, there are “dry” cascaded wax applications that this material would be suitable for. Any form of forced air or vacuum cooling present no problem for this material; nor does direct water contact through hydro-cooling.

b) Although the transportation footprint remains the same, the weight of our new product is substantially less than that of waxed corrugated.

c) While product-to-package ratios are very item specific, the amount of corrugated packaging used to ship a unit of domestic (US, industrial) product decreased by 19% between 1994 and 2005. In Canada, the amount of packaging being disposed of reduced by 50% between 1988 and 1996. These results are mostly due to fibre (and subsequent cost) reduction efforts of packaging manufacturers and their customers. As noted above, the weight reduction of Norampac’s new material significantly reduces product-to-package ratios.

d) Roughly speaking, end-users see a swing away from an $80/ton disposal fee to a $50/ton revenue when wax-free boxes are treated as regular OCC rather than garbage. This is a significant, new value that's been created from what used to be an end-of-life expense.

e) Elimination of the waxing process results in faster turnaround in production and fewer potential bottle-necks.

Performance

a) Our efforts have been centered on maintaining the original field performance and handling requirements while creating an economic, recyclable, and repulpable alternative to wax.

b) Norampac incorporates a water-based acrylic formula directly with recycled fibres during the liner and medium paper-making process. Sizing treatments are then applied within the paper plys to create a “non-wicking” paper that resists the absorption of water. A top-coat of a second acrylic formula can be applied off-line for even greater protection. These treatments each strengthen the water-resistance of the paper to create boxes that have greater protection inside and out, as well as throughout the inner fluted medium.

c) While Norampac’s wax replacement material is designed to resist the effects of moisture, it still needs to be compatible with water-based glue, inks, and starch adhesives. Additionally, it is still expected to break down in paper mill pulping environments without needing to make adjustments to the process. Considerable study was required to target the correct dosage rates to balance between adequate water resistance and too much water resistance.

d) The fact that the overall weight of the package has been significantly reduced and the end-of-life carton ends up in a new “cradle” rather than a “grave” are the two biggest performance enhancements.

Sourcing

a) Curtain coating, impregnating, and cascading waxes are made from petroleum-based, non-renewable resources; and are typically applied to virgin fibres which make packaging unable to be recycled at the end-of-life. Norampac's wax replacement material is not only fully recyclable and repulpable, but is manufactured with 100% recycled fibre (72% from post-consumer and 28% from pre-consumer sources).

b) Norampac incorporates a water-based acrylic formula directly with recycled fibres during the liner and medium paper-making process. Sizing treatments are then applied within the paper plys to create a “non-wicking” paper that resists the absorption of water. A top-coat of a second acrylic formula can be applied off-line for even greater protection. These treatments each strengthen the water-resistance of the paper to create boxes that have greater protection inside and out, as well as throughout the inner fluted medium.

c) Again, while the product to packaging ratio of very item specific, the amount of corrugated used to ship a unit of domestic (US, industrial) product has decreased by 19% between 1994 and 2005. In Canada, the amount of packaging going to disposal was reduced by 50% between 1988 and 1996. Much of this reduction was due to fibre reduction measures by packaging manufacturers. As noted previously, the weight reduction of our new material further decreases the packaging to product ratio.

d) The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) has established a voluntary protocol to evaluate the recyclability and repulpability of wax alternatives. Compliance to this standard means that treated boxes do not have to be diverted from the normal recovery stream and discarded.

Clean Production

Norampac's Canadian-based converting plants are registered to the ISO 14000 system and there exists a rigorous environmental focus for improvement. The Cascades EAG (Energy Action Group) is at the core of more than 170 energy optimization studies happening right now. Some highlights of Cascades & Norampac’s environmental efforts include:

a) Between 2006 and 2007, Norampac mills reduced their overall CO2 emissions by 39.9%.

b) Norampac Mississauga increased waste recovery by 67% between 2002 and 2006.

c) Norampac mills reduced water usage by 61.7% between 2006 and 2007.d) Cascades uses 5 times less water per metric tonne of paper than the average Canadian producer.

Effective Recovery

a) Compliance with the CPA voluntary permits Norampac to use a modified version of the international “Corrugated Recycles” symbol, endorsed by the International Corrugated Case Association (ICCA). When you see either of these markings, you know that the container has passed the only North American, industry standard for wax replacement.

b) Norampac's wax replacement material does not have to be collected or sorted any differently than traditional OCC. No new recovery infrastructure needs to be developed. This new material will simply build on the estimated 80% recovery rate for corrugated packaging in Canada.

c) The high cellulose content of corrugated containers makes it ideal for composting in situations where recovery and recycling is not feasible or economic.

Community Benefit

a) The fact that the new material can be collected in traditional OCC recovery streams means that this will have positive impact towards various waste diversion legislations and will likely become a requirement in many municipalities. What once had to be sent to landfill can now be diverted.

b) The goal was to create an alternative form of packaging without the use of wax, which would still meet functional and aesthetic requirements to protect and present products.

c) Benefits to the end-user will be tied to those enjoyed by the community in terms of reduced landfill and a general reduction of the environmental impact through the elimination of wax.

d) This new technology eliminates the need for specialized equipment, infrastructure, and materials associated with the application of wax. This is expected to increase the number of locations able to serve these markets and reduce transportation distances, costs, and environmental impacts.

Material Health

Packaging materials supplied by Norampac do not contain chemical substances in amounts that may be hazardous to human health. The wax replacement treatments used are also certified for direct food contact under applicable legislation for both the CFIA and the FDA.Recovery of this new material conforms to all recovery practices traditionally associated with OCC. There is no penalty, downgrade, or special considerations that affects the recovery, recycling and repulping of Norampac's wax replacement material.

Resource & Energy Optimization

a) Wax curtain-coating and impregnation (the most common forms of wax application) requires slower corrugating speeds, higher energy inputs, extra handling, and the addition of a non-renewablematerial (wax) with the manufacturing and transportation this involves. All of this can now be eliminated.

b) In 2006, the FBA started the process behind the first full-scale LCA for corrugated packaging materials. Norampac plans to increase this effort with studies of our own mill processes and products. To date, we've recognized a significant reduction of the carbon foot-print through the elimination of wax and a higher-than-industry average renewable energy usage.

c) Cube utilization has already been maximized for KDF and set-up boxes. However, a major factor we've been able to reduce is the weight of corrugated containers.

Categories: PAC Award Winner Paper & Board General Packaging

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